For the first time in the 12-year history of the Georgia Tech Business Plan Competition (BPC), a team of undergraduates placed first, winning for its strategy to market a revolutionary type of breathing tube.
This team, MAID (Magnet-Assisted Intubation Device), won $10,000 for first place as well as the Most Commercializable Award ($30,000 in legal, financial, and other services), the Undergraduate Team Award ($2,000), and the BPC Alumni Innovation Award ($500).
Consisting of biomedical engineering majors Elizabeth Carrigan, Alex Cooper, Shawna Hagen, and Jacob Thompson, the MAID team began developing its breathing tube technology during a course in which they were assigned to consider improvements to the laryngoscope device used commonly during general anesthesia and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
"We came to the conclusion that the device needed to be eliminated entirely for these procedures, and Jacob had the brilliant idea to use magnets to help insert a new kind of breathing tube," Hagen says.
Jacob Thompson explains that existing laryngoscopes are difficult to guide into the trachea instead of the esophagus and can sometimes result in broken teeth. With MAID's device, a magnet is placed on the outside front of the patient's neck helping draw another magnet on the tip of the breathing tube right into the airway.
Last year, the MAID team placed second in Georgia Tech's InVenture competition, winning $10,000 and a free patent filing by Georgia Tech's Office of Technology Licensing. The InVenture contest focuses on developing inventions, while the Business Plan Competition is about strategizing the commercialization of innovative business concepts.
"We're engineering students so we can design and test till the cows come home, but the Business Plan Competition got us to think really critically about our business strategy," says Hagen, who adds that she and her teammates (all seniors) are serious about making their company's product (now in testing) a reality. "The competition was a fantastic experience."
Organized by Georgia Tech's Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship, housed within the College of Management, the BPC is open to all Georgia Tech students as well as recent alumni. This year, 38 teams participated, first presenting their concepts in a tradeshow-style reception on March 1. During subsequent days, contestants were whittled down to five finalists for judging on March 9.
In all, $22,000 in cash prizes and $40,000 in service packages were awarded during stages of the competition.
TI:GER Burning Bright
Finishing second was a team from the TI:GER® (Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results) program, a collaboration between Georgia Tech and Emory that brings PhD, MBA, and law students together on teams to work on commercializing technologies.
Tungo won $3,000 for its plan to commercialize a system enabling paralyzed individuals to steer a wheelchair via tongue movements as well as operate smart phones, computers, and other technology.
The team included Hangue Park, a PhD student in electrical and computer engineering; MBA students Nikhil Kurien and Michael Lindsay, and Emory law students Steve Ferketic and Jake Greenberg. They also won the Product Showcase Award ($500) for best presentation in the trade show.
More than 100 members of the academic and business community volunteered to participate as competition judges, team mentors, or workshop speakers. Starting in the fall, a series of workshops helped contestants prepare for the competition, covering such topics as intellectual property, entrepreneurial marketing, and finance.
Sponsors included the College of Management, GREENGUARD Sustainability Institute, Advanced Technology Development Center, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Troutman Sanders, Hi Tech Partners, Atlanta Technology Angels, Delaney, HLB Gross Collins PC, Gray Ghost Ventures, Executive Entrepreneurs Society, and Bondurant Mixson & Elmore LLP.